Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Rating – 4.1 out of 5

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly is a reimagining of the evil stepsister in the Cinderella story. Isabelle with her sister Octavia (Tavi) are thrust into a life full of pain after their sister Cinderella won the prince’s hand. While they were forced to maim themselves were generally hated by the village, Isabelle knows that she has the potential for more. Looking to the fates, THE fairy godmother, and her own resourcefulness, Isabelle goes about finding her heart and leading a revolution.

Favorite Quote

“They were not pretty, these women. Pretty did not begin to describe them. They were shrewd. Powerful. Wily. Proud. Dangerous. They were strong. They were brave. They were beautiful.” ― Jennifer Donnelly, Stepsister


Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly was a quick read for me. I enjoyed Donnelly’s writing style and her ability to pull you into the action as she moved the story forward. She writes short chapters and does not put a page break between chapters, so it’s easy to keep reading along with the story being pulled along. Even so, much of the action of the book happens right at the end, with most of the rest of the book being set up for the final conflict. It goes quick but does wrap up. Donnelly has plans to write more books in this general format of expanding upon well-known fairy tales, and I would like to see more.

Parts of the story ended up being unnecessary like the interventions of Fate and Chance. They were used as plot points to move the story forward, but it seemed to add fluff where other characters could have stepped in. Those sections did remind me of Stardust because there were magical characters who were pulling strings to influence the main action. I read this for book club and one of the members pointed out that Fate and Chance might play a part in Donnelly’s future fairy tale reimaginings. This would bring her books together in a delightful way. I liked this book and it was a quick, light summer read.

I recommend this book if you like reimaginings of fairy tales still set in the original timeline.

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